Opening a Euro savings account in Costa Rica
Today’s story is about opening a savings account in Euros, which should be an easy task but is not. Banking in Costa Rica is not as simple as it is in other countries.
Please do not see this blog as a complaint about Costa Rica banks and SUGEF, I am just trying to tell you real life stories, so you can adjust to some of the weird ways of doing business in a country where things function generally different than you are used to back home.
Money laundering regulations in Costa Rica, created to keep a nice relationship between the US and Costarican governments, make it almost impossible to follow the rules when to open a bank account and stay sane while doing so.
Obey and be served
Many of you know where I do my banking, so no need to advertise the name here. This blog is not about one Costa Rica bank; it is about the Costa Rica banking system and to show you that the banks and SUGEF, the Superintendent for the Costa Rica banking system, only follow the rules. No matter how stupid the rules are, banking employees have to follow them, like it or not and you will have to obey, just like they do. This blog should make you aware of some of the stupidities you will encounter when opening an account, getting a mortgage, or any other banking diligence you have in mind, so you can arm yourself with a lot of patience and get the task at hand done without screaming at anybody.
Opening a savings account in Euros
I sold my Mercedes SUV and the buyer paid me in Euros. Since we travel to Europe once in a while, my wife Dany and I decided to open a savings account in Euros. You need to understand that I have several savings and checking accounts, as well as a credit card and a mortgage on my house with this bank since they started operating in 1995. I have never banked anywhere else and all the accounts are in my wife’s name and I am the secondary signature because she does all the banking since we married. Note that Dany does all my office administration, as well as our home admin but is not on any payroll.
Where to put your Euros in Costa Rica
We need your financial information
It was relatively simple to complete all the necessary documents but once the account was open and functional, the account manager sent Dany an email saying “I was requested to ask you for your financial information.” I have don Ivo’s financial information totally updated but yours is not. I need a CPA or a letter from don Ivo, saying that all the funds that go into your account are from his income or revenue, but it could be a letter from don Ivo stating that he gives you the money. Now, bear in mind that this same bank has managed our whole financial life for the last 19 years.
I sent the account manager an email saying “Dania Bertarioni A. is my wife, she manages my finances and in exchange, I feed her three times a day, give her a roof over her head and I take her out for dinner once in a while”. Apparently, this was not enough but the account manager was nice enough to send me a draft of a letter that I just had to sign and return.
Maybe I will keep my Euros under the mattress
Be ready, when you are doing any diligence in a Costa Rica bank, to put up with what in your mind is a stupid or abnormal request. The bank employees just follow orders from their boss, who in turn just follows the rules. It’s not their fault they have to put up with so much stupidity and red tape.
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